le Samedi 25 mars 2023
le Jeudi 16 mars 2023 10:05 Vision (Clarence-Rockland)

Plow hitting Bell box risks cutting off Internet and phone users

Martin Lacasse said the city’s plowing operations avoided damaging the Bell box for nearly 25 years. However, just this year it has been struck during snow clearing operations multiple times.  — photo Joseph Coppolino
Martin Lacasse said the city’s plowing operations avoided damaging the Bell box for nearly 25 years. However, just this year it has been struck during snow clearing operations multiple times.
photo Joseph Coppolino
The Bell box in front of Martin Lacasse’s house on Valerie Place in Rockland has been bearing the brunt of the municipality’s snow clearing operations, risking cutting off hundreds of residents from phone and internet service.

As a corner lot, Lacasse expects a lot of snow to be piled up on his property. For nearly 25 years, he has had no problem with the city’s plowing efforts, as long as they avoid damaging the brown three-foot tall Bell box at the edge of his property.

However, for the last few winters plow drivers have been pushing the snow up against the box, knocking off its housing despite Lacasse contacting the city on multiple occasions to inform them of the damage. Lacasse even installed bright yellow driveway markers with red flags on the top to alert the drivers. But even those have been run over and damaged.

“You would think that somebody who’s driving a truck sitting up high would have enough brains to realize that you can’t push snow on top of the box,” said Lacasse. “This year, they’ve hit the box at least twice and broke one of my poles.”

Lacasse spoke with Clarence-Rockland operations director Jean-Luc Jubinville and ward councillor Kyle Cyr over email in early February, as he feared the neighbourhood could be cut off from internet and phone services and access to 9-1-1.

“I’ve got a 92-year-old mother at home here, and if she has a problem when I’m not home, she needs to use the landline for 911 services,” said Lacasse.

Jubinville informed him that “due to the complexity of snow removal operations and the size of the snow removal equipment, it will be impossible to prevent the compaction of snow around the Bell box,” and noted the only solution is to have the box relocated. He also informed Lacasse that the city would bring up the issue with Bell but that it would ultimately be the telecom provider’s decision to alter their infrastructure, stating “Bell has no obligations to comply to the City’s request.”

Frustration over city’s response

Jubinville’s response only irritated Lacasse even more. In the past, it took Bell more than six months to repair the box, according to Lacasse. Regardless, the Bell box has been in place for more than two decades, said Lacasse, and up until a few winters ago the city had no problem avoiding damage to the box.

“The box has been there for 25 years, so why is there all of a sudden a problem now,” asks Lacasse. “It’s one driver who doesn’t seem to understand.”

Less than a month after contacting the city, in early March plowing operations did more damage to the box, knocking it off its base at a 45-degree angle. A stop sign at the corner was also damaged around the same time.

Lacasse emailed Jubinville once again but has yet to receive a response.

“I’ve called the city several times over the last few years to complain … I’ve never got a phone call back from these guys,” said Lacasse.

City officials stated they are only aware of one complaint filed regarding the box this year. They also stated they are currently working with Bell to move the box to an underground location but did not indicate when the change would be made.